So I have been wanting to write this blog post for a long time. In fact, I was just waiting for the Lego Movie to come out to Redbox so I could rent it and take detailed notes while I watched it. I did this the other night, and have taken those notes and turned them into this blog post. If you’ve seen the Lego Movie, or heard about any of the controversial views represented by it, you might appreciate this blog post. (If you haven’t seen the movie, you might not understand everything I reference. So if you are interested in this, I’d advise you to go watch the movie and then come back here. It’s at Redbox!) Even if you don’t agree with me, I am really interested in what you think about it, so please comment on here and add your thoughts! It was a great movie… very brilliant concept and hilarious. So here I am including some notes on my thoughts about the movie and its message.

Disclaimer:

  1. Warning- there are some spoilers in here.
  2. This post is a little lengthy.
  3. You’re going to get some insight to my political, economic, and general life theory in here. You’re welcome to take it or leave it.

lego movie controversy

I want to start by saying this. The first two times I watched the movie, I really thought the movie was just trying to bash capitalism and business and the free market. I thought it was trying to send a message that business was bad and that you should avoid corporations because they are going to take over the world and kill everyone. As an avid capitalist myself, I was actually really offended by that, because I saw them make so many negative references to business. It seemed like the movie wanted you to hate business, and embrace the idea that creative people are special and every idea is a good idea. What bothered me most was that I’m all for being creative and innovative, but why do they act like business and creativity/innovation are mutually exclusive? But after watching it for the third time and analyzing it closely, I’m not so sure anymore that that’s what they’re saying. In fact, I think they’re actually making fun of both sides. The movie isn’t actually anti-capitalism/business or pro-capitalism/business. It’s pointing out that neither side is perfect on its own and that there are flaws. When structured people and creative people come together, the world can be better. There doesn’t have to be a divide between business people and artists.

lego movie anitbusinessBefore I go into more detail about that, I want to point out the satire part of this movie. I want you to see how people can be “offended” by the message it seemed to be sending about business. In the very first scene of the movie, you find out the villain’s name is literally “Lord Business” His minions are called “micromanagers” and there is a reference to “overbearing assistants” as being some of the bad guys. His dungeon is called a “think tank”. The concept of the story is that people used to be allowed to do whatever they want, then Lord Business got mad at the chaos and insisted on order and organization and perfection. “People everywhere are always messing with my stuff…I need a way to keep things as they should be forever.” – Lord Business. He insists on “total perfection”, and makes an instruction book for all people to follow so they don’t make any chaos. This instruction book includes rules such as “Always use turn signal, follow the signs, drink overpriced coffee, always return a compliment.” It’s supposed to be a list of ridiculous things, but they also mix in things that we actually should be doing. I, for one, think it would be great if people would use turn signals. But it’s included with a list of absurd things, making it sound like no rules should be followed. These people panic when they don’t have instructions, as you can see by Emmet’s response, “What do I do? I don’t have my instructions?” Emmet is then instructed to follow his gut, and he says, “I feel like I should touch that.” But we can’t always follow our gut!! What about when our gut tells us to do something bad? You also have Unikitty who presents to business people at a board meeting. All she says it, “Business, business, business… numbers, numbers, numbers… Is this working?” This implies that all businesses are only worried about the numbers and profitability. You also have a quote from Lord Business saying, “It’s not personal, it’s just business.” This is implying a common catchphrase we use today can be an excuse for making real problems and destroying relationships. (Honestly, there is a little bit of truth to this. This phrase has been abused from time to time.) Near the end of the movie, you meet the villain himself. Emmet asks, “Is this is the man?? The man upstairs?” I think it’s subtly referencing what it’s been saying all along, that “business” is the villain. I could give more examples, but you get the idea.

lord businessAfter the first time I watched the movie, that was all that I took away from it. But after watching it a couple more times, I got a little more out it. I noticed that they also make fun of the other side… people who are anti-business, anti-order, and those who think you should support every idea that everyone comes up with. Here are a few examples. When they first bring up the idea of the “special”, a character says, “A special one? What a bunch of hippie-dippie baloney!” Wild Style keeps discouraging Emmet and telling him that he’ll never be a masterbuilder. (Which is sort of funny, because that’s more limiting to him developing himself that the instructions that he’s been following.) Also, there’s scene when the crew arrives at Cloud Cukoo Land. I think this where I started seeing the satirical mocking of the other side. Unikitty is introducing everyone to the place and says, “There are no rules… no government, no babysitters, no bedtimes, no frowny faces, and no negativity.” Wild Style points out the irony by saying, “You just said ‘no’ like ten times.” Unikitty then says, “And there’s no consistency! Any idea if a good idea, except the not-happy ones.” In another scene, Lord Business says, “I never got a trophy just for showing up. No one ever told me I was special.”

So my conclusion is this:

The movie is about how we need creativity and to support ideas, but we also need order and structure. Having one without the other, or preferring one over the other, is ridiculous.

unikitty lego movie
Maybe I’m reading into it too much. At one point when Emmet is trying to give an inspirational speech, all of the masterbuilders get completely discouraged because he has no creative ideas and only has a background of working in “business”. Everyone gets angry and starts rioting. Lego Abraham Lincoln flies away saying, “A house divided against itself… would be better than this!” I wonder if this line is talking about the fact that even though no side is perfect, it’s better than just one side completely ruling. At another point in the movie, Emmet says, “What’s the last thing Lord Business would expect a masterbuilder to do? Follow instructions. You guys are creative, but you can’t work together. When we had a plan, we built skyscrapers.” I think this is the point of the movie. You need creativity and ideas and you need to support people’s ideas, but you also need order, organization, and structure, and you can’t support and promote every idea out there. Towards the end of the movie, Emmet is talking to Lord Business and says, “You don’t have to be the bad guy. You are the most talented, interesting, extraordinary person in the universe… capable of amazing things, cause you are the special. So am I. So is everyone.” This last part sounds kinda hippie to me, but I think this is one way they are trying to make the point that business and creativity is neither good nor bad in and of itself. It’s what you do with it. Are you taking action and believing in yourself? Are you communicating with others and growing the world around you? Being yourself isn’t necessarily bad. We need rules and structure, but there is still freedom to be yourself within that structure. Another example of this is when Unikitty is really upset and trying to think of happy thoughts after Cloud Cukoo Land was destroyed. She says “bubblegum” as a happy thought. Which is actually kind of funny, because bubblegum was used to trap Superman and the Green Latern guy just a few minutes before. Could they be implying that something can be seen as good or bad, depending what you do with it?

In the end, the movie is really just like every single other kids movie out there- the key is to be yourself. I didn’t notice this until my third time, but did you notice what the piece of resistance was? It was the lid to the Krackle. Aka- the key to the world not becoming frozen and monotonous was for people to embrace their uniqueness and their strengths. The problem is, I don’t think kids are going to get the satire and the other message about structure and creativity. Instead, they’re going to come away remembering the bad guy’s name is Lord Business and that rules, structure, and organization are bad. So, that’s still a little frustrating to me. But maybe this will encourage a cool conversation among kids with their parents where they can start to think about a good balance of structure and free-thinking.

Maybe I totally overanalyzed this movie and thought about it much harder than the producer intended me to think about it. But I figured I should write about it if it made me think that hard about it.

Oh and here’s a freebie for you. Remember the part where Benny is trying to disarm the computer, and he keeps talking to it and it has no idea what he’s saying? That’s totally making fun of Siri. 🙂

So what do you think? Have you seen the movie? What do you think it’s about?

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “The Lego Movie

  1. Hi! So… I love the LEGO movie, and I love analysis of film. So naturally, I had to read this post. I think you touch on some interesting points with the Lego movie. There is the balance between order and creativity you mention, and between individualism and collectivism. And I agree with those observations. And you’re right– to be honest, my least favorite place the protagonists go is Cloud Cuckoo Land. Batman hates the place, too. It’s just kind of annoying. Unikitty has anger issues. The point is driven home most powerfully by the attempt at building an escape submarine–the individualistic master builders can’t synchronize. And the submarine is not structurally sound nor functional. Teamwork is a highly-valued skill by the movie’s standards.
    Another interesting thing is that “everyone is happy” in either world, the city or Cloud Cuckoo Land, while there are obvious flaws to each one.

    But I feel like one crucial aspect of the story is our narrator. It’s a little kid– who is playing with his dad’s “stuff,” with which he technically is not allowed to play. His dad, who up to this point, seems not to have communicated that he really cares about his son (though it is clear he does very deeply, at the end). Lord Business isn’t the bad guy because business is evil. He’s the bad guy because that’s how this boy sees his dad. The reason believing in oneself features so prominently? It’s on a cat poster. I guess, my point is that the narrator isn’t reliable, so everything we observe in the story we need to temper with that knowledge. He’s young and has a vivid imagination. Perhaps another theme might be… Reconciliation between the unstructured creativity personified by the child, and the structured, efficient lifestyle of his father. Maybe the writers are making a critique of how adults so often forget the wonder and amazement of a child. Maybe they are speaking to how people can be workaholics and unaware of how they may be hurting their families (like the father, who loves his son, doesn’t realize the impression he has made on him until the end). What Emmet tells Lord Business at the end… in my eyes, that was what the boy wanted his father to say to him. The story craves reconciliation between the boy and his father.

    On the other hand, including a human child and an adult with the Lego toys evokes a since of nostalgia; many folks who watch the films will have played with them as children in the 80s and 90s, now “grown-up” like the father. At the same time, Lego is appealing to a new, younger generation. Like it’s a connection between different generations with vastly different perspectives. I personally found this theme to be prominent as well, but it’s possible I’m speaking out of my own nostalgia for the beloved Danish building blocks.

    I just though I’d add in my two cents to the conversation. And, may I say again, you make excellent points on the film. Thanks for writing such a thoughtful post– it was a great joy to read.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting on here, Luke! This is amazing!! You make some excellent points that I hadn’t even thought about. Great analysis. My boyfriend actually pointed out a little bit about what you were saying about the reconciliation factor, and I can definitely see that. Yay for clever movies that allow such great discussions! Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

Comment here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s